People all over the world will have their eyes on Windsor Castle when Prince Henry of Wales (familiarly known as Prince Harry) marries American actress Meghan Markle on May 19.
Some might simply be curious, others might secretly want to revel in the fairy-tale-like narrative of princes and princesses and castles, and a few are probably tuning in to see if anything interesting happens.
There has already been lots of media coverage of the details of the wedding, from Markle’s dress to the part her reclusive father will play, to the cake and the honeymoon destination. But many people might not be familiar with the settings for the various wedding events.
Here’s a closer look at the locations for this much-anticipated event.
Saint George's Chapel
Harry and Meghan will wed at Saint George’s Chapel, an 800-seat church at Windsor Castle. The chapel dates back to the 14th century, though it has been expanded and updated over its lifetime. It has a distinctly Gothic style and is topped by traditional statues called the Queen’s Beasts, which represent the regions and nations that historically supported England and its royal family.
The chapel is more intimate than 2,000-seat Westminster Abbey but still has a long history of royal weddings. Prince Edward, Queen Elizabeth’s youngest son, married Sophie Rhys-Jones at Saint George’s in 1999, and Harry’s father, Prince Charles, married his second wife, Camilla Parker Bowles, there in 2005. Generations earlier in the 19th century, King Edward VII, then Prince Edward, used the famous space to wed the Princess of Denmark, who later became Queen Alexandra.
Windsor Town, Windsor Great Park, and The Long Walk
As is often the case with royal weddings, Harry and Meghan will make a public appearance after the ceremony. They will ride in a horse-drawn carriage from Saint George’s through the streets of the Old Town area surrounding Windsor and then to the castle through Windsor Great Park. The most prominent pathway through the park is known as the Long Walk. The 2.65-mile trail (4.26 kilometers) is an iconic aspect of Windsor Great Park. The entire route is lined with elm trees.
In a press release about the wedding, the couple said that "they hope this short journey [from Saint George’s Chapel to the castle] will provide an opportunity for more people to come together around Windsor and to enjoy the atmosphere of this special day."
Windsor Great Park is a popular spot for walkers, joggers and picnickers. Conservative estimates project at least 100,000 people will be in the park for the wedding procession.
There are reportedly plans to erect large screens along the Long Walk so that people who make the trip can follow the carriage as it makes its way to the castle. This will be the first time that recent improvements to the Windsor area will get time on camera. There will also be extra security along the carriage-ride route. For most of the general public, this will be the only time to witness and participate in the wedding celebrations.
Saint George's Hall
Wedding guests who were invited to the ceremony were also asked to attend a lunchtime reception hosted by the queen at Windsor Castle. This reception will be in Saint George’s Hall. Saint George's Hall is the largest single room in the castle. It is extremely long at 180 feet (55 meters), and relatively narrow at only 29 feet (9 meters) wide. Despite its Gothic-style architecture, this room was renovated relatively recently. It was badly damaged by fire in 1992, but recreated with a modern Gothic look.
This hall will be familiar to royal watchers. The queen often hosts official events for VIPs and heads of state who visit the castle. However, such “state dinners” usually involve 100 to 200 people. The wedding reception could have as many as 600 guests, so the usual layout — one extremely long table — may not work on May 19.
Frogmore House is about half-a-mile from Windsor Castle. (Photo: Karen Roe/flickr)
The wedding celebrations will continue at Frogmore House with a second party for about 200 guests. This more relaxed to-do will be hosted by Prince Charles.
Frogmore is a royal residence only a short distance from the castle. It has been used as a kind of retreat for nearly three centuries. It is open to the public for several days each year. If you want to see the residence and its gardens, you have to book tickets in advance. The public opening is a kind of fundraiser, with the profits going to charity. The next public days are in June, a few weeks after the wedding.
Frogmore was reportedly a favorite of the queen, who used to use it often as a retreat when her children were younger. People who follow the wedding preparations closely have already seen Frogmore House. Harry and Meghan took their engagement photos on the property.
The different settings for the royal wedding will get plenty of camera time on May 19, but they have all played an important role in the British Royal Family for generations.